The Delhi High Court allowed the dissolution of a marriage of a couple, holding desertion by the wife as the primary ground, after the husband couldn't substantiate allegations of cruelty in his plea for divorce under Section 13 (1)(ia) and (ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 (HMA).

Concerning desertion, the Court held that the wife's departure from the matrimonial home within two months of marriage, without complaints or legal actions, and her absence during divorce proceedings demonstrated that she chose to stay apart from her husband and had “broken the bond of marriage, though not legally but otherwise.

Discussing what constitutes cruelty, the Division Bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait and Justice Neena Bansal Krishna observed “There exists a thin line between misbehaviour and cruelty. Whether behaviour of a spouse against the other is mere difference of opinion, leading to matrimonial conflicts resulting into normal wear and tear of a married life or the conduct is such which has led to a spouse misbehaving with the other to the extent that it causes mental agony upon the other, determines the aspect of cruelty meted upon the other.

Advocate Ajit Singh represented the appellant.

The husband, in his divorce petition under Section 13 (1)(ia) and (ib) of the HMA before the Family Court, claimed that despite a loving welcome into their family, the wife did not reciprocate with love, affection, and respect. He claimed the wife had concealed her gynaecological issues and internal stomach disease before marriage and had affairs. It was asserted that the wife was verbally abusive and quarrelsome. The husband contended that the wife had left the matrimonial home taking her valuables post which her father demanded Rs.50 lakhs, threatening false cases against the husband’s family.

The husband then filed an appeal before the High Court and the Court held that the appellant failed to provide any evidence of the respondent taking legal action or making complaints against him or his family and noted that "the appellant has not been able to substantiate the allegations of cruelty meted out by the respondent within the purview of Section 13(ia) of the Act, as rightly held by the learned Family Judge."

The Court noted that “There is no doubt that respondent has quietly chosen to stay apart from appellant and broken the bond of marriage, though not legally but otherwise” and held that the “respondent has wilfully deserted the appellant and so, appellant is entitled to get benefit of provision of Section 13(1) (ib) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The High Court disposed of the appeal and dissolved the marriage under Section 13(1) (ib) of the HMA.

Cause Title: Gaurav Nighawan v. Shweta (2024:DHC:68-DB)

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